Age ain’t nothing but a number nowadays, particularly in Hip-Hop, as the last decade has seen several artists, producers, and DJs achieve success, acclaim, and relevancy well into their 40s and 50s. These figures are considered timeless, as their sheer exuberance and love of the game result in their birthdate becoming an afterthought as they continue to contribute to the culture. DJ Kid Capri falls in this category, as the legendary spinner has managed to keep the party going for three decades and counting, leaving the public lost in the music while keeping his name alive and his skills in demand.
Recently celebrating his 50th birthday, Capri has done it all, from DJing on the biggest stages across the globe to producing tracks for and emceeing alongside your favorite rap stars. To commemorate reaching a new milestone in life, the legend unleashed a new album, The Love, on Feb. 7. The project finds the Bronx native stepping outside of the DJ booth into the vocal one. Comprised of 19 tracks, with only one rap feature, courtesy of Capri’s daughter, Vina Love, and additional appearances from Lovel and mr lexx, The Love is a full-bodied project that finds the party-rocker kicking flows atop an array of self-produced backdrops.
The formula is similar to that of his debut album, The Tape, which was released in 1991, making Capri the first DJ to release a full-length studio album. Using the COVID-19 pandemic as an opportunity to express himself on the rapping tip, Kid Capri addresses various topics on The Love, including the divide between certain rap artists and their predecessors, as well as the state of the culture overall. “I always stayed in it,” Capri tells VIBE of his love of the game. “Doing 250 shows a year, all that time, all the way up into the pandemic. I stopped in the pandemic and it’s the first time I had a chance to sit down and relax and focus on everything else. That’s why I did this album. I did four albums, as a matter of fact.” He also makes mention of a forthcoming documentary titled Mr. Every Era, which he describes as “cinematic.”
“I’m 95% done with it,” Capri reveals. “It ain’t gonna look like a regular documentary, its got some effects to it. It looks crazy. I wanted to have it done for when the album dropped, but it ain’t gonna be out in time for that. We’re almost done with it and it should be out sometime this year.” He continues, adding, “So, when this movie that I’m almost finished doing comes out, it’s gonna show everybody what they need to see. When they see this movie, it’s gonna put everything where it needs to be and it’s gonna make a whole lot of sh*t straight and everybody’s gonna know what’s what. Because a lot of people will take my sh*t and make you think that it started with them [laughs]. So, I’m gonna show you what the real sh*t is.”
VIBE recently spoke with Kid Capri about showcasing his lyricism on his new album, ushering in the era of the superstar DJ, bridging generational gaps in Hip-Hop, and more.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
VIBE: Last year, you were inducted into the Bronx Walk of Fame. What did it mean for you to be honored by the residents of your own borough?
Kid Capri: Man, that’s a dream come true because there’s so many other people they could’ve put up there way before me. Whether they have my accolades or not, there’s a lot of people that was here before me or known in the Bronx before I was, even though I was a little kid watching them. But, you know, they decided to do that for me because of what I’ve done to bring the work around the world. Just to be recognized like that, it means something, man. It could have been overlooked, it could’ve been the next person, so I’m really happy. And every time I get an award, it’s like the first time, man. I get a lot of awards, but every time I get one, it’s like I’m getting it for the first time and I appreciate each and every one of ’em.
A big part of your legend stems from your run as a mixtape DJ during the ’80s. What would you say are your biggest contributions in that aspect of the game?
The mixtapes I started putting out in ’88 and ’89. I did it [until] ’91, and then from there, I set the mark of bringing the money to the DJ business. Before I came in, it wasn’t a lot of good money being made for the DJ because the DJ was looked at as somebody that was just behind somebody or just playing records and it was very limited DJs on the radio. Across the country, they wasn’t really playing Hip-Hop, so you had to be special like Red Alert.
So, it wasn’t no real money being made until I came in the game and brought the business to it. And brought the style of how a DJ could be a one-man band and could really go and pack a place by himself and don’t need any help and just be dope. So, I put that [in] the game to where DJs are doing what they’re doing now. They sound a lot like me on the microphone or they’ll play my kind of style and that’s a beautiful thing, to know that I was able to do that and influence people like that, man.
Your new album, The Love, dropped earlier this month. What’s the inspiration behind the title of the album?
Well, [it dropped] on my birthday. My oldest daughter’s birthday is on that same day. Our last name is the Love. It’s for the love of my family, it’s for the love of music, it’s for love of everything I do. My fans and all that, everything I’ve been doing all these years.
It’s about the love of everything we’re doing, man. It’s beautiful, man, because the crazy thing is they ain’t see what I’m about to do yet. After all these things I’ve done in my legacy and everything like that, I’m feeling like I’m starting over again because I keep [reinventing] myself. I keep making things happen and I want to do that. I want to make sure that people don’t say, “He’s older and he ain’t keeping his ear to what’s going on.” My ear stays sharp to everything. So, I want to show that somebody my age can stay just as relevant as somebody that’s younger.
It’s been over 30 years since the release of your debut album, The Tape, which dropped in 1991. What inspired you to get back in the studio?
Me sitting in the pandemic, I got a chance to see a lot of things. I’ve seen a lot of fronting, I’ve seen a lot of fake sh*t. One thing, I seen Lil Pump disrespect Eminem. “Nobody listens to your music no more, you old, you this, you that.” So, I’m sitting there like, “Yo, the younger generation think that the older people ain’t capable.” And why would he disrespect the dude that’s like f**king Elvis to Hip-Hop? This dude made plenty of music and ripped out so much sh*t, made so much bread. Why do they feel like it’s that easy to just disrespect the older people?
And at the same time, how is it that the older people disrespect the younger people and what they do? Why everybody can’t just do what they do? So, that was one thing. [The] second thing was when the quarantine hit, I was DJing on the net from 2015. On Periscope, Instagram Live, and Facebook from 2015 to 2018. So, I was doing the net from 2015 to 2018 and I stopped because I started Sirius XM. I want to drive the people to Sirius XM, but I was doing two shows a week, free of charge. Never charged nobody nothing, never made a dollar, I just felt like it was my way of giving back to all the people that had been taking care of me all these years.
The lead single from the album, “Uptown,” features your daughter, Vina Love. Was that collaboration organic or was it planned?
Well, I wanted her to be on a party record with me. The name of the record is called “Uptown,” it’s saluting Uptown, Harlem and any place that’s Uptown. I was born in Brooklyn and I was raised in the Bronx, but I got on in Harlem. That’s how I got known, so I always make a record respecting Harlem. My first album 30 years ago, The Tape—the very first single was called “The Apollo.” So, I always show love to Harlem for recognizing me and uplifting me and putting me in position, because they were the ones that was buying my tapes and playing my sh*t all over the streets to where the world came to start getting it.
[My daughter] was raised in Harlem… So, I wanted to put her on that record because it was saluting Harlem. It’s a party record, and right now, with the times that’s going on, everybody [gang banging] in records and things getting shot up and a lot of negative sh*t going on in the world and everything like that, I just felt like it was time to make a record that’s fun.
That’s why I started the Sucka Free clothing line. Because I feel like in these times you gotta be Sucka Free. The sh*t ain’t slang to me, it’s a way of life. All the sh*t that’s going on right now, you gotta be able to stand strong and stand firm.
What can listeners look forward to from Vina Love moving forward?
Well, she’s got records already out. She’s got “Air” out. She got a lot of records out. Just go to her YouTube channel and see all of her songs and her videos. “Air” is one of my favorite joints, but she has so many dope joints up there, it’s crazy.
She wrote “Air” for Rihanna. Somehow it didn’t get to Rihanna and she decided to do it herself and that’s the record that opened up for her, where the video was being played and it was playing on the radio. It didn’t blow up crazy, but we don’t have no machine behind us. We’re doing this by ourselves. We’re independent. We don’t have a machine that could put us where we need to be, we’re doing it and going strictly off the music. So, as we go, the company’s gonna grow, the music is going to grow and we’re gonna do real good.
But you gotta do the grind when you’re doing it independent. I want to own all my sh*t. I want to own all my masters. I don’t want to work for nobody, I want to work for myself and boss up. So, at the end of the day, the grind is what it is, you gotta put the work in.
What are the parallels between The Love, The Tape, and your 1998 album, Soundtrack to the Streets?
I’m totally different, man. I played certain records [from] my album for people like KRS-One, Snoop, Rakim, [Grand] Puba, [Big Daddy] Kane, and some of the younger dudes, just to get opinions. To have KRS tell me this is one of the dopest albums he ever heard, that meant a lot to me ’cause KRS is KRS, you already know how it go.
Other MCs like Snoop, saying, “Don’t let nobody tell you what you can and can’t do. This sh*t is dope.” Because it was that reluctance, too, you know? I’m known as DJ Kid Capri, I got big as DJ. I do everything, but I got big as DJ Kid Capri, so I was nervous to see how they’re gonna react because they don’t know me for doing that.
Biggie said it best: “I’m big, black, ugly, and fat.” But he made the type of records that made him beautiful. You make that music that’s right, it don’t matter what age you are, where you come from, how you look. None of that sh*t. All that matters is how the music is and that’s the bottom line. That’s what’s gonna speak for everything.